About five years ago, I joined accessifyforum, after attending a Carson workshop on web accessibility. I think Jack Pickard was one of the first people I met on the forum, as he made a point of saying hello to new members. A couple of years later, I had the privilege of meeting him at @media 2006. He was a top bloke – friendly, extremely knowledgable about the web, always quick to help with answers to questions or step in to calm down arguments. Over time, I stopped visiting the forum, preferring to use twitter for quick questions about web development. @thepickards was one account I made sure of following, though, for banter about web standards, Newcastle United, beer and jokes. Only this time last week, Jack was telling me how to pronounce Uranus.
I was stunned to hear that Jack died last Saturday night. The comments on his last blog post, accessifyforum, and the reaction on twitter and facebook are a testament to the respect with which Jack was held online. As pixeldiva says, his loss is a tragedy for his wife, his children and family and the wider web accessiblity community.
I used to swap Monty Python jokes with Jack online, so I’m going to end with a clip from The Life of Brian. I think Jack would have agreed with the sentiment.
He was a good bloke. Totally passionate about his work. Always willing to help his friends. Co-authored my first paper and gave me a great reference for my first job.
Ten years ago. Yours truly was living in Mexico City and went to visit Janet in Guatemala. Helen had just bought a house with Graeme. Matt was still drinking studying hard in Southampton, I think. Greg was fighting the good fight with IGC in San Francisco. England snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Germany in the European Championship. Take That split up.
This photo was taken in 1994 and must have first gone on the web in 1995 or 1996. Probably on geocities. “Aren’t you afraid it makes you look gay?” was asked a couple of times after that. Once by the girlfriend of the time who, of all people, should have known the answer to that question. Hmmm, was there something she wasn’t telling me? Well, I suppose the jester’s hat does give me a certain merry air.
Anyway, fearing nothing (haha!) and confident in my own sexuality, I’ve put the photo back up again. Besides, if you’d been fortunate enough to touch Stan Kurtz, you’d want to share the experience with the world too.